Who This Service Is For
This service is for anyone who must have a Security Clearance for a job hire.
- This may be your first Security Clearance application.
- You might have an active Security Clearance and it needs to be renewed after five or ten years.
- It could also be for the person who already has had a Security Clearance—which has become inactive.
How The Security Clearance Application Process Works
You Receive A Job Offer Requiring A Security Clearance
An individual cannot just apply for a Security Clearance. That individual must have a job offer that requires a need for a Security Clearance. This creates Jurisdiction, and the clearance process can begin since there is a need for that person to have a clearance. If there is no need for a clearance with a job, then this Security Clearance application cannot be submitted.
If you’ve received a job offer which is dependent on receiving a Security Clearance…
You Must Complete A Questionnaire For National Security (SF 86)
- You are sent a Questionnaire For National Security (SF 86).
- You cannot even start work or view the area where you will be working until you have at least an Interim Clearance (of up to six months).
- The form is 127 pages long, with over 26 sections of questions that you have to answer. You must describe everything in your background going back 7-10 years.
- Your employer expects you to use the e-QIP online form to complete your application.
- Every answer you provide on the form will be investigated. You don’t want to give an answer that is incomplete or attempts to dodge responsibility.
- If your answers trigger any problems for the government, this is what happens:
- Your job start date will be delayed.
- You get onto the slippery slope of having your Security Clearance denied.
- Getting your clearance becomes a LOT more complicated and takes a lot longer.
You Submit The Questionnaire For National Security (SF 86)
- Once you have filled out the form, you submit it electronically.
- When the SF 86 is submitted electronically, it automatically goes into the system.
- The Security Manager will review it and submit it to the appropriate agency for further processing.
- This initiates the investigative phase.
Some Applicants Are Allowed To Start Work With An Interim Clearance
An Interim Clearance can be granted even prior to the completion of the full investigation on an individual. A lot of potential job candidates will receive a “Conditional Offer of Employment” which is contingent on obtaining an Interim Clearance. This occurs when there is a high demand for a skill or other job-demand reason. If the Interim Clearance is declined, then the Conditional Offer will most likely be rescinded.
With some employers and in some situations you could begin work with an Interim Clearance. Typically these involve a quick background search of the reports that are easy to do such as:
- A credit report
- A local agency report
- An FBI check (national agency check)
An Interim Clearance is normally good for up to six months and is temporary. However, at times, the final clearance is not adjudicated within that time frame and could take up to two or three years.
The higher the Security Clearance access you are seeking the longer the investigation takes. So, Top Secret Security Clearances sometimes can take up to even three years to adjudicate. Although the Government sets the expiration of an Interim Clearance at six months, they sometimes ignore their own policy.
The Government Investigates Your Answers
An investigation can take up to three years to finish. This depends on the level of clearance, and whether or not there are any issues/concerns that the government may have. Such issues will prolong the granting of the clearance.
- The higher your clearance the more extensive and comprehensive your background check is. The depth of investigation is based on the level of clearance:
- Confidential Security Clearance
- Secret Security Clearance
- Top Secret Security Clearance (SCI) Special Compartmented Information (1-3 years investigation)
- The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM)—which serves as the Human Resources Organization for the Federal Government—performs the majority of background checks.
- The government investigation typically involves some or all of the following:
- You will have an investigator assigned to your case. The investigator will interview your family, friends and neighbors. His/her job is to dig into your records as deeply as possible to see what they can find.
- Because these are the most common areas that are concerns for the government, they will be looking at things such as:
- Warrants for your arrest
- No fly lists (TSA), including incidents with any type of airline
- Drug or alcohol-related issues
- Foreign contacts
- Financial Records
- Criminal Records
- Some agencies may require a polygraph test.
- When the government does a background check and finds something, your clearance will be delayed.
Security Clearance Application Ends In One Of Three Ways
The application part of the Security Clearance process ends in one of these three ways:
1 You receive the requested Security Clearance—a favorable outcome.
2 You receive interrogatories from the government requesting additional information on a list of issues they found in your application. This means that the government has some concerns about your responses. You will spend additional time satisfying their requests. Your job hangs in the balance.
3A Letter of Intent To Deny can be issued without your first receiving interrogatories. This means that the government has serious concerns and will skip the interrogatories and go straight to the more serious Letter of Intent with a Statement of Reason.
Why You Need This Service
No one actually knows exactly what happens in the Security Clearance process. You’re going to have a better chance of getting a clearance the first time if you hire a security clearance attorney.
It’s a lot more complex than you expected. It’s easy to think you could just do your best and all will turn out well. That’s not a good idea. Here’s why:
- It’s impossible for you to fully understand exactly what the government needs to see.
- You also don’t have necessary insight about how the government views your answers.
- You’re not sure what to include and what is irrelevant.
- You don’t know how to mitigate any issues in the government’s eyes.
- You don’t have certainty about the kind of or completeness of information the government requires.
- You have issues in your background that could be problematic and you need advice about handling them.
- It’s a daunting task to attempt to fill out the form by yourself without counsel.
- You don’t want to take a chance on being denied and having your job offer threatened.
- It’s important that you understand that once you’ve filled out the form, signed it, and submitted it, going back to change anything can reflect badly on you.
- You can change your answers after you have submitted the Form.
- It is recommended that—if you do have a “change” in mind—the sooner you make that change the better.
- To make a correction after you have submitted the form, you must contact your Security Manager and/or the Investigator right away. The government will see that you made this correction right away, and the repercussions will be limited.
- The longer you take to make this “change”, the worse it will reflect on you.
- If you wait until after the investigation is complete and decide to make these changes, then you most likely will have to deal with the consequences of “lying” to the Government.
- If you’ve left anything out or minimized the gravity of an incident, you will have a problem.
When it comes to filling out the SF86, you’re not doing yourself any favors by being less than completely honest. You’ve got to fill this form out completely and honestly. If you even have any doubt about your answer to something, you don’t want to submit the form. The government will check the honesty of everything you write on the application. If you leave anything out, that automatically becomes a red flag.
You need to understand what the government sees as a lie. On the SF 86, you only need to disclose what is asked on the form. If you answer a question that could be potentially negative, then that is when you need to disclose every detail about that concern. If you answer “yes” to a question, don’t just move on to the next question. You must disclose additional information to cover yourself.
You want to make sure to disclose everything before the government discovers it and has to ask you for it. Realize that if you don’t disclose, you’re opening yourself up to a government security catchall category of “personal conduct” issues. Let’s just do it right the first time. Disclose what happened and explain it.
How This Service Helps You
- We help you fill out this form. We’ve helped do this hundreds—even thousands—of times before.
- We advise you on what to disclose and how to disclose it.
- We show you how to document or mitigate (in advance) anything that the government could see as an issue.
- We help you dig through your background to surface anything that you must disclose. It’s easy to forget things or to minimize them because—in your mind—they are “handled”. The government expects to see more information than that, and we help you understand their viewpoint.
- We guide you through the maze of the 127-page form, making sure that you understand every part of it.
- We interview you extensively, helping you to uncover any kinds of issues that WE KNOW are problems for the government.
- We take all that information and provide you with written responses to submit. You do not have to write the responses. We do that for you.
- We help you collect the documents you need in support of any issues or questions.
- We do everything possible, and share every bit of information we know to help you get a favorable decision.
Request a No-Fee Consultation
Where To Next?
Now that you understand how this service works, you may want to review our Response to Security Clearance Interrogatories service to see how we could help you with responses to interrogatories. For the full details, go to Response to Security Clearance Interrogatories.